Unlocking the door, to my suite, I carried my little buddy inside. Ashley came running up, to us, and took the bag, from my shoulder. She sifted through it, to find his pajamas, while I took him into the room that he would sleep in. I set him down and began to fix the bed. Through the corner, of my eye, I caught the sight, of Baylee…his face lacked all emotions, now, as he finished getting changed. Not a word was said, when he climbed under the soft comforter.
Feeling the distress that still loomed, in the air; I lay next to him, until he fell asleep. Once I heard his soft snoring, I silently slipped out, of the room. I could only imagine how many times we would be up, throughout the night. Slowly heading into my room, I saw Ashley already sleeping, soundly. I let out a soft sigh, as I climbed into bed, next to her, kissing her forehead.
You’d think that sleep would be hard to some by, after a day like this, but you would be, oh so, wrong! My brain had completely shut down, by now, and my body was numb. You could have pierced my heart, at that moment, and I wouldn’t have even felt a slight twinge, of pain. When I laid my head, on the pillow, my whole being gave up any, and all, fight, to sleep.
Although sleep consumed me, quickly, I was awake countless times, overnight. Sometimes it was me that had woken up, with bad dreams, or even happy memories that led to that familiar, painful feeling. Other times, I was woken by my hysterical nephew, whom needed comforting. Everything, in me, craved to ease his pain…to take away the hurt…even to, just, have the words, to calm him, but alas, I was at an utter loss. Was there a book, I could buy, that would tell me how to handle this? At this point, I would have paid any price!
Morning came, all, too soon; and we were still completely drained, of both energy and tears. We, all, got dressed, without really caring, how well we looked. Baylee’s eyes were dark, bloodshot, and puffy; as I am sure mine were, too. I held his hand, in mine, as we left the hotel. I have never held his hand, this much before, but I figured he could use as much comfort, as possible, in whatever form it could come in. Plus, it made me feel a little better, too.
The ride, to the hospital, was silent, aside from the one time that Baylee asked, if he would be able to see his mom, today. My brain wasn’t functioning well, enough, to form much thought, let alone words, so Ashley had to answer him, but only gave him a ‘maybe’. The car fell quiet, again, as we drove the rest of the way.
When we got to the hospital, I reached down, with one hand and grabbed Ashley’s; my other hand taking Baylee’s, and we made our way, through the parking lot. I held tight, to their hands, as we neared the crowd that stood outside the entrance.
“NICK! NICK! Can we have a comment, please?”
“Over here Nick!”
“Answer a few questions?” The voices were jumbled, all, of them, shouting at once. All the camera flashes were enough, to blind us, as we tried to weave through the people. I knew I had to address them, somehow, so taking in a deep breath, I turned to face the crowd.
“No comments, right now.” I held my hand up, signaling them, all, to hush. “We will hold a press conference, as soon as we know everything that’s going on. We appreciate the support of our fans, and ask that everyone be patient. Thank you.”
“Just one question, Nick!” They were relentless, continuing on, with no respect for us. Sure, it’s their job, as reporters, but still. I just told them that there would be a press conference…what more do they want?
“Come on.” A strong, familiar voice, spoke behind me. Turning, I saw an old friend. It had been a couple years, since we needed security, and now, I was face, to face, with one of our old bodyguards. Shaking my hand, he held open the door, shouting at the crowd. “The man said he had no comment! Have a little respect!”
“It’s nice to see you again.” I smiled up, at him, thankful that he was here. Q was a friend and someone that I could trust. I knew that we were better off, now that he was here, to help.
“You, too, Nick. No one else is here yet, but I know that Howie and Leigh are on the way.” He gave me a small smile, while he walked us, to the elevators. He stayed in the lobby, while we went up, to Leighanne’s floor. Stepping out, of the elevator, we made our way, to the waiting room.
My mind swirled, watching Baylee sit in a corner chair. I knew what had to be done, but I also knew the possible repercussions, of it. Baylee deserved to see his mother, yet, could he handle it? Kevin would, surely, flip out, once he found out that I took Baylee down there. It’s not like anyone could, actually, go in to the room, right now, but it was possible to peer, through the glass. When my eyes drifted, to him, again, I knew what the right thing, to do, was. I needed to take him, to see his mother. What if she didn’t make it? I couldn’t bare the thought, of him not being able to see her, one last time. It was bad, enough, that he would never get that chance, with his father.
“Baylee…” I interrupted his thoughts, as I took a seat, next to him. “We’ve got to talk, for a minute.” His eyes met mine, and I still wondered if he could handle this. I wasn’t even sure if I could handle it. But, I knew that he would have it hanging over his head, his whole life, if she didn’t make it.
“Yeah?” Barely able to hear him, I set a hand on his shoulder. I shifted, slightly, knowing that I had to prepare him, if I was going to take him down, to see his mom.
“You know your mom is sick, right now, because of the accident. Well…I’m going to take you, to see her.” His eyes lit up, and his shoulders straightened, hearing this news. “I know your mom and dad taught you all about germs and stuff…right now we can’t go into her room, because the germs, we carry, might make her sicker, but we can see her through the window.” The ICU rooms had walls that were half glass, so that it was possible, to see a patient without going in.
“Okay.” I knew he understood the reason, for this, because Leighanne was a bit of a neat freak, and would always give him a lecture, about how germs would make you sick, whenever he forgot to wash his hands. His eyes still looked hopeful, about seeing her.
“I have to warn you, though, Baylee. When you see her…it’s going to be kind of scary. She has lots of machines hooked up, to help her. They don’t hurt her, they just help her to breath…they give food and medicine…she needs them, so don’t be too scared, ok? It will just look funny.”
“Okay, Nick.” He popped up, out of his seat, ready to go see her. Standing up, I took his hand, again, and headed toward the door. I drew in a deep breath, looking at Ashley, who gave me a reassuring smile. Although it was a nice gesture, her smile did nothing to ease the knot, in my stomach, or the lump in my throat.
I could tell that Baylee was both, excited, and nervous, as we walked down the ICU hallway. He wasn’t the only one, who was nervous, either. My mind battled, with itself, over this situation, and whether it was the right decision. I hadn’t thought about how bad Leighanne might look, or how traumatizing it might be, for Baylee. Looking at the room numbers, I knew we were getting close, to her room.
Drawing near, to the window, of her room, my stomach began to flip. I rubbed my sweaty palm, on my jeans, as we came to a stop. Closing my eyes, I took in a deep breath, before turning to look, through the glass. Baylee was already standing, with both hands on the glass, staring at his mom.
I was pretty surprised, to find that she didn’t look as bad, as I thought she would. Sure, she was pretty banged up, but there were bandages over most of her wounds. It was hard to believe that she was in a coma, when she just looked like she was taking a nap. There were several machines hooked up, just like I knew there would be.
“Nick?” Baylee’s voice was soft, as he looked up, at me. His hands still stayed, on the glass; while he looked at me with questions, in his eyes.
“Yeah, BayBay?” Swallowing the lump that remained hanging, in my throat, I prepared myself. I knew that he had, to have, a million questions, running through his mind.
“I want to go in there, and see my mom!” There were tears, nestled in the corners, of his eyes, but he wasn’t letting them fall. I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling, as he looked at his mom. “Why can’t I go in and see her?”
“Baylee…you can’t go in, just yet, because we don’t want to make her sicker, remember? You will get to go in soon, though…maybe tomorrow, when your grandparents come.” Honestly, I wasn’t sure if anyone was allowed in, to see her, yet. Yesterday, we were informed that no one could go in, yet and that when people were allowed in, it would only be immediate family. I knew I wasn’t allowed in, and I wasn’t about to ask if he could go in, alone. It seemed that it would be best, to wait until his grandparents arrived. But, how do you make a young boy understand that?
“But, she can’t hear me, through this glass…can she?” He was sniffling, and I knew he had to be frustrated.
“I’m sure she can, Baylee. Why don’t you give it a try?” Kneeling beside him, I put an arm over his shoulder. We continued, to look through the glass. He looked, at me, again, and then turned back, to looking at his mom.
“I love you momma. I hope you get better soon! Please, get better soon.” Shoving his hands into his pockets, he turned back, to me. We locked eyes, and that’s when the questions began. “What does that T.V. screen do?”
“That shows your mom’s heartbeat. See, look…” I took his pointer, and middle, fingers, and I helped him place them on his neck. “Feel that?”
“Uh huh.” He nodded slightly, leaving his fingers there, even after I had taken my hand away.
“Well, that little thump that you feel is called your pulse, and that’s what makes those little spikes, on the screen. That tells the doctors how strong your mom’s heart is…the higher the spike is, the stronger her heart is beating.” I gave him a small smile, hoping that, by answering his questions, it would help him feel a little better.
“So, why does she have that thing in her mouth?” Okay…this question was way harder! It’s not that the answer was a tough one; it was just a little more disturbing, for a young child, to hear. So, I decided that I better explain this in a little less detail. It’s not like I could tell him that the tube went all the way into her throat!
“Your mom has a little trouble breathing, all by herself, right now; so that big tube, in her mouth, gives her oxygen and helps her breath. It doesn’t hurt her at all; she doesn’t even feel it, right now.” I was pretty satisfied, with that answer…just enough explanation, to make him understand, without being enough, to freak him out.
“What is oxi…”
“Oxygen? It’s something that’s in the air we breathe. Your body uses oxygen for everything! It helps your heart to beat, and your brain to work, and even your muscles to move. Every time you take a breath, your body gets some of it!” I chuckled, softly, watching Baylee take a bunch of deep breaths. He turned back, looking through the glass. I knew this meant he was looking for more questions, to ask.
“Are those IV’s like the one that I had, before?” Baylee tilted his head, biting his bottom lip. I had, almost, forgotten about him being in the hospital before, since it was a few years back.
“Pretty much, yes. They give her medicine and stuff that take all her pain away.” I reached up, ruffling his curls. Looking at me, again, he gave me a half smile. Silence fell, over us, for several minutes. We just stared, through the glass, at Leighanne. I was praying, like hell, that she would pull through, and be alright; I’m sure Baylee was praying too.
“Nick…” His voice was soft, and dripping with sadness. Looking at him, nothing could prepare me, for his next question. “Is my momma gonna die, like dad did?” I was dumbfounded, to say the least. I guess, I should have expected it. I mean, his dad had already passed, and his mom was in a coma…any kid would have asked that question. What, the hell, was I supposed to say? I couldn’t give a straight answer, because there was no way, for anyone, to know that answer. Think quick, Carter!
“I don’t know, for sure, Baylee. Only God knows that. But, we’ll keep praying, for her.” Nice! Good answer! I could see that, that wasn’t the answer he was hoping for, though. Not that I expected him to be satisfied, with it, but it was the best answer I had. “Hey…what do you say we head back, and see if everyone else has gotten here?” The only response I got was a slight nod, as he slipped his hand into mine.
My heart was heavy, as we slowly walked, toward the waiting room. I just wish we would, all, wake up, already! There was a long road, ahead of us, and I wasn’t looking forward to the hike. So many emotions were up, ahead, and I could barely handle the ones we were getting, now. Then, there was the looming possibility, of Leighanne not making it. I couldn’t remember the last time I had prayed this much, and there was no end, to that praying, in sight!